British Columbia

'Occupy Vancouver' protesters settle in for long haul

Several hundred Occupy Vancouver protesters continued to gather outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, the second day of the protest movement.

Several hundred Occupy Vancouver protesters continued to gather outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, the second day of the protest movement.

Sunday's crowd, estimated at about 400 people, was considerably smaller than Saturday's crowd, which swelled to 4,000 people at its peak.

Protests inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, which began weeks ago, emerged in at least 15 Canadian cities over the weekend, including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Victoria.


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The protests are inspired by a grassroots movement that has spread to more than 80 countries and featured demonstrations against global financial inequality and corporate greed.

In Vancouver, protesters camped overnight Saturday in tents scattered around the lawn of the art gallery, and those who remained were eager to get their message out.

Chris Henley brought his young daughter to the protest on Sunday, saying it is important for his entire family to show their support.

"I thought it was important just to give my kids a little bit of exposure about what are some of the citizen's responsibilities," he said. "I think this is the kind of action that can really give momentum to systemic change that needs to happen."

Henley wants his daughter to see people can stand up and call for change.

'Apropos of our time'

Barbara Crompton, who also visited the art gallery on Sunday, has mixed feelings about the protest.

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"I'm very proud of what British Columbia does for people of various dimensions and economic abilities, so I think that Vancouver has done a great job … saying that, I do believe that this demonstration is apropos of our time," she said.

"I do believe that we have gone way too far over big business and with big salaries, so I think that the awareness this brings to people, whether they agree with it or not, broadens us and opens us as human beings to various aspects of change."

Eldon Pulak, a physiotherapist who is volunteering at the Occupy Vancouver medical tent, said the size of the crowd on Saturday was impressive.

"It was really exciting because everyone came down together and it was safe, it was calm and it was peaceful and it was well-managed, and the police were fantastic," he said. "It was really, really exciting to see that many people."

Pulak said volunteers are working to ensure protesters stay warm overnight, and ensure the site is kept clean and safe.

"If we want to have longevity, if we want to stay here, we have to protect ourselves," he said. "We have to keep ourselves clean and dry and healthy, and that's the first and foremost thing."

'Little town within a town'

In Victoria, protesters took over Centennial Square.

"We're going to settle in for the long haul," said organizer Simon Chopman.

'Occupy Vancouver' protesters camped outside the city's art gallery on Saturday night. (CBC)

"Someone's donated us a little fire barbecue so we could get a little bit of heat for us. It was a brutally cold night last night," he added.

"People have donated blankets, people are sharing tents for body warmth — it's just been amazing the sense of community that's really actually developing here — a whole little town within a town."

Police say the events have been peaceful without any major problems.

"There's been no issues for police," said Vancouver police Const. Jana McGuinness.

"We're just monitoring it in terms of how many resources we need here to safely manage the situation and keeping an eye on things, but it's pretty festive in terms of the atmosphere down here. There just seems to be no issues for us at all."

McGuinness said police have no plans to move protesters any time soon.

"The police role in this is to keep the peace, so we stand by," she said. "The city is in charge of the property and any issues that arise in terms of decampments or anything like that, so that's the way it'll stay in days to come."

McGuinness said police will retain a 24-hour presence as long as the protest continues, and said it's not clear how much policing the protest will ultimately cost.